CBS This Morning hosts rallied around reporter Jericka Duncan after it was revealed 60 Minutes producer Jeff Fager sent her threatening texts that led to his termination which program’ veteran Sharyn Alfonsi described as a ‘terrible day for CBS News’.
Duncan contacted the longtime 60 Minutes producer asking for a comment on the new allegations of sexual harassment made about him in a New Yorker story as the scandal involving CEO Les Moonves unfolded.
In the texts, which were sent after Duncan went for comment, Fager wrote: ‘If you repeat these false accusations without any of your own reporting to back them up, you will be held responsible for harming me.’
That was followed up with a text that stated: ‘Be careful. There are people who lost their jobs trying to harm me, and if you pass on these damaging claims without your own reporting to back them up, that will become a serious problem.’
Duncan appeared on the CBS This Morning round table Thursday to discuss the matter, a day after Fager was terminated.
CBS This Morning hosts rallied around reporter Jericka Duncan after it was revealed 60 Minutes producer Jeff Fager sent her threatening texts
Hosts (L-R) John Dickerson, Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King are pictured at the studio in New York City in January 2018
CBS reporter Jericka Duncan received warning texts from 60 Minutes producer Jeff Fager about the coverage of the sexual misconduct allegations against him, just three days before he was terminated
Co-host Gayle King said: ‘This is a very difficult story for us to cover… big trees are falling at CBS, but I really do believe that the company wants to and will get this right.
While taking her attention toward Duncan, she said: ‘I can only imagine what this has done to you and how this has affected you… I certainly applaud you for speaking up.
Norah O’Donnell then asked the reporter how she felt when she was sent the threatening messages.
Duncan replied: ‘I was shocked… the many people that I’ve covered, you finally understand that conflicting feeling about why and what… and why would you even put me in this position?’
When O’Donell asked is she viewed his words as a threat, Duncan added: ‘I did… and it’s even hard to say that today, because, yes, we do receive harsh language all the time, but this is someone who held an enormous amount of power here, who I respected, and I was shocked.’
‘If you repeat these false accusations without any of your own reporting to back them up, you will be held responsible for harming me,’ wrote Jeff Fager in a text
60 Minutes veteran Sharyn Alfonsi showed her support for Fager, and called his firing ‘awful’ and a ‘terrible day for CBS News’
King then said: ‘I think once people saw that text, they might have felt differently about it – it certainly sounded like a threat.
John Dickerson chimed in: ‘It was a threat.’
60 Minutes correspondent Alfonsi, backed Fager while speaking to the New York Times this week.
‘I think it’s a terrible day for CBS News,’ Alfonsi said. ‘I think it is awful… I don’t understand how you get fired over a text message.’
Fager sent the text messages to Duncan, warning her about the coverage of the sexual misconduct allegations against him, three days before he was fired from the company.
Just hours after Fager was fired on Wednesday, a composed Duncan spoke on CBS Evening News about the text messages and then announced: ‘I am that reporter.’
Duncan, who has been tasked with reporting on both Fager and Moonves for CBS News these past few days, then went one step further and revealed the exchange that led to Fager’s exit.
Duncan teased her appearance on Wednesday just before she appeared on air to report the story.
‘Many people have asked if the text Jeff Fager referenced was to me. It was. I’ll have more reporting on this tonight,’ she wrote on Twitter.
Once on-air, she said that she felt the need to speak in light of recent developments.
‘Since Jeff Fager publicly referred to our exchange today, I want to be transparent about it,’ she told viewers.
It was shortly after outlets began to pick up the news of Fager’s exit that he released a statement of his own, in light of CBS News’ refusing to comment on his specific violation.
‘The company’s decision had nothing to do with the false allegations printed in The New Yorker,’ said Fager.
‘Instead, they terminated my contract early because I sent a text message to one of our own CBS reporters demanding that she be fair in covering the story.
‘My language was harsh and, despite the fact that journalists receive harsh demands for fairness all the time, CBS did not like it.’
Fager sent these two text messages to Duncan after she asked him for comment about sexual misconduct allegations against him in a New Yorker article
He added: ‘One such note should not result in termination after 36 years, but it did.’
CBS News president David Rhodes confirmed part of this as well in his memo, writing: ‘This action today is not directly related to the allegations surfaced in press reports, which continue to be investigated independently.’
It was then noted: ‘However, he violated company policy and it is our commitment to uphold those policies at every level.’
Nineteen women have come forward to detail what they claim was a hostile environment at 60 Minutes where harassment was condoned, with some detailing specific incidents involving Fager.
Duncan teased her segment on Wednesday’s CBS Evening News just hours before
Sarah Johansen said that when she was an intern Fager allegedly groped her buttocks at a party, and she was later told this move was referred to as the ‘Fager arm.’
‘Jeff Fager is leaving the company effective immediately,’ read a memo sent to CBS staff Wednesday afternoon.
‘Bill Owens will manage the 60 Minutes team as Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews and I begin the search for a new executive producer of the program.’
That memo went on to state: ’60 Minutes is the most significant news broadcast on television.
‘We are fortunate to have incredibly talented journalists in place whom we know will continue to deliver our defining investigative work.’
On Sunday, Les Monves (right) resigned as CEO of CBS for a string of sexual misconduct allegations. He was spotted with wife Julie Chen (right) for the first time since stepping down